In 1997, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hit the big time as their script, Good Will Hunting, turned into one of Miramax's earliest hits with critics and awards voters alike. With the two actors winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film, as well their co-star Robin Williams winning his Best Supporting Actor trophy for that same project, the Gus Van Zant directed film earned its place in independent film history. But, due to a combination of sad and unfortunate reasons, Damon has found himself unable to revisit this watershed film. The Downsizing actor explains his reasons, as follows:
Oh, man, it's pretty full and fertile territory. I mean, we started writing it, Ben was 20 and I was 22, and it came out when he was 25 and I was 27. So it really dominated our 20s. Like, half a decade we spent just obsessing over bringing that movie to the screen. All of this creative energy we had wrapped up in it, and it became this incredibly positive experience, it completely changed the trajectory of our careers. It was this wonderful thing. And in 2003 Elliot Smith died, and I haven't watched it since then, just because I always thought it would be hard to hear this music along without thinking of that, and then to have Robin end up getting this horrific, degenerative brain disease, that obviously ... I mean, I can't imagine watching it right now. I mean, I'm sure I someday will. I want to show it to my kids. Then, now, finally with these revelations about Harvey.
Over the course of 14 years, Matt Damon's desire to revisit Good Will Hunting has been soured by an understanding cloud of sorrow. It all started with the untimely death of singer/songwriter Elliot Smith, who contributed several pivotal cues to the film's soundtrack, including the original song "Miss Misery". But combining that with the fact that Robin Williams would then later go on to pass in a similarly surprising manner was another huge blow to Damon's want or need to see the film ever again, as Williams' performance alongside Damon's titular character is an intense and sorrowful experience in and of itself.
However, if that hadn't scared Matt Damon from watching his accomplished film for the foreseeable future, the recent tide of allegations leveled against former Miramax head Harvey Weinstein have seemed to have sealed the deal. Which is a total shame, considering just how much Good Will Hunting's fans and supporters have gone to bat for the film, even after all of the sorrow that's seemed to surround it. Even though Good Will Hunting does see its protagonist head off to greener pastures, Will's journey to that great fate does wade through some sad and cathartic waters.
Even though the ending is somewhat uplifting, it does come at a narrative cost that has to see things get worse before they get better. Though he definitely doesn't seem to have given up watching Good Will Hunting forever, Matt Damon does have some valid reasons why revisiting the film too soon would be an upsetting experience. But even more valid are his reasons why such a decision also hurts while making sense. Those reasons are covered below, as Damon continued to talk with Collider about the film's legacy in his memory:
It's tough. It's tough to reconcile those things, because the movie has such a profound place in my heart, and it's such an expression creatively of what Ben and I wanted to say at the time, and our own attempts to be heard as actors in this town that just doesn't listen to actors, and we were getting constantly rejected. It's just such a big part of us. It's a lot of these powerful things that are now in conflict kind of colliding with each other. It's tough. I guess it's bittersweet.
While there's a lot of different factors that have turned Matt Damon off from watching his own breakout hit, the world will still remember Good Will Hunting as an intensely personal dramedy that helped cement the careers of its writers. More importantly, it will always remain an example of a good film, no matter what conditions may surround it.